Many years ago I had a pastor who impressed me with both his great wisdom and delightful sense of humor. He would often quip that he had been known to “cry at supermarket grand openings”!

I can relate to his comment — at least at times. Sometimes I cry with little or no provocation. At other times I do a pretty good job at “stuffing down” my feelings — ALL feelings — including feelings that lead to tears.

\I’ve heard it said of food addicts that if we don’t “Face Our Stuff” we’ll (eventually) “Stuff Our Face”. I’ve found this is VERY true in the sense that some of my most painful feelings have surfaced during periods of sane eating.

How vividly the lyrics of Simon And Garfunkel’s song I Am A Rock captures the emotional pain that many of us addicts have tried to stuff down…

“I am a rock.
I am an island.
I’ve built walls —
A fortress deep and mighty
That none may penetrate…
I have no need of friendship;
friendship causes pain.
Its laughter and its loving I disdain….
I touch no one and no one touches me…
And a rock feels no pain.
And an island never cries.”

As a recovering co-dependent, feeling MY feelings should NOT be too difficult a task to handle since (in active co-dependency) I had NO problem feeling EVERYone else’s feelings. But the reality has been that running from, denying and stuffing down (“stuffing” comes about with my ingesting EXCESS amounts of food) MY OWN feelings has been my pattern.

Many years ago I heard it explained that feelings, also referred to as “emotions” , are “energy-in-motion” (think “e-motions”). My understanding is that ingesting any any mood-or-mind-altering substance can (and does) “block” the processing of emotions. Hence the state of “emotional constipation” that many of us addicts experienced during out days of active addiction.

I don’t know why, but feeling MY feelings CAN seem overwhelming. At times I’ve found myself wondering if I was going to “e-mote to death” by allowing myself to feel my feelings!

The Overeaters Anonymous brochure entitled, A Plan Of Eating: A Tool for Living – One Day at a Time (Copyright 1988, 2001, 2005 Overeaters Anonymous, Incorporated. All rights reserved.), addresses the connection between food and emotions with these words:

“For a compulsive overeater, eating is attached to emotions. We are never fully satisfied, no matter how much we eat, because we are eating for emotional reasons rather than physical reasons. We eat for excitement, love celebration, loneliness, escape, pleasure and comfort. We devour food to anesthetize ourselves. We eat out of anger, resentment, envy, jealousy, fear, pride, guilt and grief.”

The good news is that, through working the 12 Steps, I’ve actually been able to discover/uncover whatever feelings I’ve been stuffing down with excess food. Through working the 12 Steps while working with other addicts I’ve found the strength to NOT act out with food in an addictve, compulsive or impulsive manner, despite feeling some intense and pretty crappy emotions!

Recovery doesn’t magically protect me from feeling painful feelings. Recovery gives me the strength and courage to discover, feel and then move beyond my feelings without the need to swallow excessive amounts of food or avoid physical exercise. How does all of this work? One Day, One Step and One Feeling at a time!

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